Europe

SNP torn apart for ‘bringing Scotland to its knees’ as business thrust into ‘disaster’

Sturgeon slammed by campaigner over 'illiberal' vaccine passports

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The claim comes after the Scottish Tories’ failed attempt to block Nicola Sturgeon’s vaccine passport plan and after the first weekend of its enforcement has been labelled an “unmitigated disaster” by Scotland’s hospitality sector body. Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme has been legally enforceable since October 18. People who wish to enter nightclubs and large events must provide proof of full vaccination.

Under the rules of the vaccine certification enforcement law voted for by the Scottish Parliament, proof of vaccination will be required to enter “late-night venues open after midnight with alcohol and music and dancing, unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience, unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience and any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance”.

Ministers of the Scottish Parliament believe the scheme will limit the spread of the coronavirus and increase vaccine take-up.

Mr Fraser, the Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, warned there was “no answers and no detail” on how the vaccine passport plan would work in practice.

In a statement announced today, he said: “Hospitality businesses and workers are now facing the harsh reality of the SNP’s beleaguered vaccine passport scheme.

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“For weeks the industry has been predicting the disaster it faced this weekend, trying to enforce an unworkable and unreasonable SNP scheme, with no additional financial support for businesses or their workers.

“What is most concerning is the levels of abuse hospitality workers have been subjected to, caused by a lack of public engagement, and a frustrating and unreliable app from the SNP.

“The pandemic and the subsequent actions of the SNP has brought the hospitality industry to its knees.”

Before the vote in the Scottish Parliament The Conservatives are also concerned the scheme would be made permanent after John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, last week refused to rule out it remaining in place “forever”.

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Mr Fraser said: “Just days before the Scottish Parliament is expected to make a decision, the SNP Government has provided no answers and no detail about what they’re planning.

“We are extremely sceptical about vaccine passports and entirely opposed to any attempt to make them a permanent feature. The SNP cannot use this vote as a proxy to prolong Covid powers that were supposed to be temporary.”

He added: “These proposals appear increasingly unworkable. Key decisions have clearly been left to the last minute in the SNP’s usual rushed, shambolic way.”

Attempting to allay fears that the vaccine certificate enforcement scheme would have far-reaching consequences, Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This is a very limited scheme and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.

“This virus has not gone away and vaccine certification will have a role to play in keeping transmission under control as part of a wider package of measures.

“It adds a further layer of protection in certain higher-risk settings.

“I also want to ensure that as many people get vaccinated as possible and particularly to increase uptake in the younger age cohort, so anything to incentivise that is helpful.”

After the Scottish vaccine passport announcement Leon Thompson, Scotland’s executive director of UK Hospitality, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “One of the critical factors that has not really been talked about is just how ready the public is for the introduction of these passports.

“I would say they are not ready at all.

“We’ve repeatedly asked the Scottish government for some public information campaign to run so that businesses, front-of-house staff, when they are talking to customers at midnight or whenever checks are taking place, they know that the public will have the details on what they need and they will have their certificates ready.

“But there’s been no public information put out so it has very much been left to businesses to manage this and that is one of the big concerns, particularly for the first weekend of the introduction.”

The measures attached to the Scottish coronavirus vaccine passport scheme came into effect on 1 October.

However, there was a grace period to allow preparation for the hospitality industry and it has been legally implemented since 18 October.

Attempting to allay fears that the vaccine certificate enforcement scheme would have far-reaching consequences, Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This is a very limited scheme and we hope this will allow businesses to remain open and prevent any further restrictions as we head into autumn and winter.

“This virus has not gone away and vaccine certification will have a role to play in keeping transmission under control as part of a wider package of measures.

“It adds a further layer of protection in certain higher-risk settings.

“I also want to ensure that as many people get vaccinated as possible and particularly to increase uptake in the younger age cohort, so anything to incentivise that is helpful.”

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